#TravelTuesday: Fitness in Phoenix — 3 Top Resorts

by Brook Benten Jimenez on September 28, 2021 in Travels,

In and around Phoenix, AZ is known for its vortex of meditation sites, spas of worldwide fame, and fitness amenities that keep active aging Scottsdale residents rocking rock-hard bodies like the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

We consider these three resorts to be your must-see, must-stay places for fitness and wellness in the area.

1. JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa

About ¾ of the way around the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa’s lazy river, you’ll come on a spiral sloping body slide—fun for kids and adults alike. Courtesy photo

The JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa, Arizona’s largest luxury resort, is 316 acres on the ridge of the desert and on the verge of paradise. There’s a lazy river that circles an island, enabling you to sit in an inner tube and breathe out the worries of the world. 

Fitness 💪

The fitness center at Desert Ridge is exquisite. The weight room is sprawling, with both LifeFitness and Hammer Strength equipment. Fitness seekers will find a sizable selection of pin-placed equipment (counts your duration and repetitions with a digital monitor), plate-loaded barbell lifting stations, and cardio equipment.  

Cardio options at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa include Peloton bikes, ellipticals, stair-climbers and treadmills. Courtesy photo


Desert Ridge offers a multitude of classes on their group fitness schedule.  AZ locals can purchase a membership to take these classes alongside resort guests. The wellness feature that really took the spotlight is the 7am weekday yoga class. This vinyasa flow yoga session is hosted either in the resort’s spa or outdoors on the artificial turf adjacent to the garden.  

Nutrition 🍴 

Because the pool is in high demand at this resort, it’s worth the nominal up-charge to rent a cabana.  For nutrition, opt for the house-made hummus, with its fresh lemon zest and copious amounts of flavorful tahini.  If you’re watching your simple carbs, request extra vegetables to replace the pita chips.

The cabanas at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa are complete with televisions, misting fans, and a personal server. Courtesy photo

2. Mountain Shadows

The ageless hot-spot of Mountain Shadows Resort originally opened in 1959, beckoning Hollywood stars like Lucille Ball, Bob Hope and Robert Stack.
Courtesy photo

Mountain Shadows is an upscale boutique resort in Paradise Valley, AZ with roots in 1950s modernism. The resort closed in 2004, reopening in 2017 after a $100M rebuild.  

Fitness 💪

The two-tiered swimming pool cannot be overlooked here. Vogue Magazine voted this among the “Hottest Hotel Pools.” Although some hotel guests may enjoy a luxurious dip with an alcoholic beverage in hand, fitness advocates can enjoy the lap lane on the top tier, measuring 75 feet long.  

It’ll take you 36 laps to make a mile, but master your flip turn and enjoy this epic fitness sesh in one of the world’s greatest resort pools.
Photo courtesy Mountain Shadows Resort


Pilates Reformer sessions are offered at The Citizen Club, Mountain Shadows’ 4,000-square-foot fitness studio. (Other classes include anti-gravity yoga, hanging from the ceiling in silk fabric hammocks; indoor cycling, TRX suspension training, and more.) Pilates Reformer consists of low-impact body and spring-based resistance training, designed to develop the powerhouse/core muscles and improve flexibility.  

Balanced Body instructor Patti Mehl, leads students through Pilates Reformer at Mountain Shadows Resort. Courtesy photo

Nutrition 🍴 

Hearth ‘61 is cleverly named for the year that Paradise Valley became an incorporated town.  Chef Charles Wiley was named among “The Top 10 Chefs in America” by Food and Wine and “One of the Best Chefs in America” by the James Beard Foundation.  You’ll find exquisite American fare at Hearth ‘61. The little gem chopped salad topped with salmon—hold the dressing—nails taste, macronutrient balance and nutritional density.

You’ll find exquisite American fare at Hearth ‘61, Mountain Shadows’ open kitchen, bar and living room restaurant. Courtesy photo

3. JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa

With its desert-inspired design, adobe-style architecture, and nostalgic charm, JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa is a peaceful oasis with 453 newly renovated casitas. Courtesy photo

Set on 125 acres also in Paradise Valley, AZ, the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa is among the most sought-out destinations for luxury travelers. Originally opened in 1936 by entrepreneur Jack Stewart, the resort is celebrating its 85th year by offering a lavish $85,000 anniversary package!

Fitness 💪

Camelback Inn sits at the base of little-known Mummy Mountain and boasts views of its neighbor, the far better known Camelback Mountain. There’s no trail to the top of Mummy Mountain, so you can’t summit without risking dangerous falls. But, if you’d like to try an easy and well-marked trail at the bottom of Mummy Mountain, Camelback Inn has you covered with Tyner’s Hiking Trail.

Camelback Inn sits at the base of little-known Mummy Mountain and boasts views of its neighbor, the far better known Camelback Mountain.

Many vacationers find themselves in deep trouble on nearby Camelback Mountain with its steep elevation gains over a short distance (tip: see our recent article here). This is not the case with Tyner’s Trail on Mummy Mountain. It’s an easy, approachable half-mile hike that even those in poor-to-moderate physical shape can complete with efficacy.


Sound Meditation, also known as a sound bath, is one of the trendiest things in wellness today.  It dates back to the 11th century in Asia, where sounds from Tibetan bowls were used to induce a state of spiritual healing. The theory is that high vibrations can shift stuck energy and blockages in the body.  “The body is 60% water, so it makes for a great conduit for vibrational sound therapy,” explained Jennifer Buljan, holistic health practitioner.  

Jennifer Buljan creates sounds and vibrations with crystal and gemstone bowls, cymbals and gongs. She non-verbally leads 1-hour sound meditation sessions while guests at Camelback Inn Spa lay on yoga mats with a red rose on their torso and the petals on their hearts. Photo Jennifer Buljan

Nutrition 🍴 

Rita’s Cantina & Bar is the fresh Mexican restaurant at Camelback Inn that complements the resort’s 1930s-era casitas. Weekends come alive at Rita’s hearty brunch. Rita’s serves the best avocado toast, period. For the protein, try scrambled egg whites, hold the cheese, and you’ll have a fiber-rich nutty grain toast with fresh avocado smash that is heart healthy and amply portioned to split three ways.

Bottom Line

If planning a quick trip to the Phoenix area, any one of these resorts will satisfy your fitness, wellness, and nutrition needs.  But for the full zen experience, stay a while and enjoy all three of these award-winning properties in the Sonoran Desert.

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Cover photo courtesy Visit Phoenix/dspaz.com

Brook Benten Jimenez, M.Ed. is a fitness expert based out of Austin, TX. She travels Texas, and beyond, finding wellness adventures and telling their stories.